In May, two fellows will move on while two continue their work. Here’s a close look at the state of the fellowship and its third cohort.
Author: Matthew Cook
Karp fellow helps a fellow student with using the VR headset. Photo by Quinn Freidenburg

It has been four years since University of Rochester Trustee Carol Karp ʼ74, Pʼ11 and Victor Glushko P’11 made a major gift commitment, creating the Carol ’74, Pʼ11 and Sarah ’11 Karp Library Fellows Program.

At the program’s outset, Karp, chair of the University Libraries National Council, and her daughter, Sarah Karp ʼ11, sought to create future-ready students. The idea was to give exceptional students opportunities to hone and employ their skillsets in ways that prepare them for their professional careers—and make significant contributions to the River Campus Libraries and University at large. That vision has become a cohort-based fellowship program whose growth will be shaped in part by Kimberly Hoffman, interim assistant dean of engaged learning and research, and Laura Dumuhosky, the new student success librarian and Karp Library Fellows cohort coordinator.

“Because the program is so well-established,” says Dumuhosky, “certain aspects make it easy to fold myself in. For example, the students are already well-oiled machines within their respective departments. So, my task is to help them understand how they fit together and work as a cohort, and essentially, what it means to be a Karp Fellow.”

If it’s not already, the Karp Fellows Program is on track to becoming one of the libraries’ signature programs. Yet, one of the things Dumuhosky thinks about most is how it can continue to evolve, such as engaging more with the University’s internal and external communities. The program also provides an entry into a suite of experiential learning opportunities, led by Hoffman, which put students in real-world work experience.

“Skills like time management, professional etiquette, and collaborative leadership are uniquely gained when students can ‘practice’ their professional personas in the safety of what is still considered undergraduate employment,” Hoffman says. “The Karp Fellows Program moves students into work environments that provide greater autonomy and decision-making.”

The efforts by Hoffman and Dumuhosky are supplemented by managers in the program’s participating areas, which include Barbara J. Burger iZone, Mary Ann Mavrinac Studio X, and soon, the Department of Rare Books, Special Collections, and Preservation.

This fall, the program will welcome its fourth cohort. But, for now, take a moment to meet the current Karp Fellows, some of whom will be moving on in May.

Studio X

Angie Cortez
Angie Cortez ʼ24 | XR Researcher

Majors: Political science, comparative literature

Angie’s background and interest in technology and law made her an excellent candidate for the XR Researcher. In fact, most of her research this year has focused on the overlap between XR, the Metaverse, and the ethical and legal questions that arise in virtual spaces. She has helped with outreach efforts this year, working with other Karp Fellows and XR specialists to co-host events. She’s also running a series that uses philosophy to introduce humanists to the Metaverse.—Emily Sherwood, director of Studio X

I pursued this position because… I am passionate about technology and its relationship to the legal field. When I discovered the XR Researcher position, I was enamored by the opportunity the Karp Library Fellowship proposed. I liked that I’d be able to conduct my own research in the premier Studio X space while strengthening skills I was not extremely confident in, such as public speaking. The metaverse and XR hold countless possibilities just waiting to be explored, and I wanted to be the one to do it.

The skills and experience I’m bringing to this position… come from my time working in the history department as a research assistant as well as my work in the Office of Undergraduate Research and Fellowships. I learned a lot about research, design, independent work, and applying technical programming skills to smaller projects, all of which helped shape my perspective of the metaverse in the humanities.

I’m most excited to… talk to others in the community who share the same interests that I do and have the opportunity to engage with technology in the law. The reading group that I hosted in the space allowed me to share what I learned and hear what others had to say on the topic. Furthermore, Professor Kate Phillip’s reading group on The Metaverse Handbook created an invaluable opportunity to meet people from a wide range of departments and backgrounds that opened a whole new world of conversations and ideas.

When I graduate… I hope to attend law school or a profession that allows me to explore internet and technology law further.

If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say… Thank you for helping to create the Karp Library Fellows. I think that in future years, many more people will benefit from the ability to have experiences that align with their passions and interests. Regardless of the projects they work on, every fellow’s work will be spectacular because of the guidance of those shaping and driving the program.

Liam O'Leary
Liam O’Leary ʼ23 | XR Developer

Major: Digital media studies

Liam’s deep expertise with XR hardware and software has allowed him to teach several hands-on, skill-building workshops on Unity for the University community. Some of these workshops were for an AR/VR interaction class and graduate students participating in the NSF-funded interdisciplinary XR PhD traineeship program. Liam is also truly passionate about VR, which makes him an invaluable voice in purchasing equipment (like the Valve Index VR headset) and an impressive developer, most notably exemplified by the digital twin of Studio X that he created for an educational app.—Meaghan Moody, assistant director of Studio X

I pursued this position because… I was excited about making connections with other talented individuals and having the opportunity to continue to build my skills in VR technology. When I first tried VR back in 2016, it immediately took hold of me. I was fascinated by the technology and the potential it had. At the end of my first year at Rochester, I started creating my own VR experiences using the game engine Unity. I have now been working on a rock-climbing VR game for almost two years. Studio X became an incredible resource throughout this project.

The skills and experience I brought to this position… included 3-D modeling skills, programming experience, problem-solving skills, and the ability to collaborate with others. I have gained a lot of experience working with complex VR interactions in my personal projects, including hand poses, user interface, and puzzle-solving. I am really proud of the progress they have made and what they have accomplished.

I’m most excited about… the progress my peers have made and the things they have accomplished. In my role, I have had to also be a mentor. I have worked with other student employees to assist them with their development of our VR alchemical laboratory and guide them through the problems that they have faced. I’m also excited to continue working on my current VR project, “Studio X: The Game.” My hope is we can use this to teach newcomers about what Studio X and VR can offer.

When I graduate… I am going to continue working at Studio X full-time as the XR Developer! I am really excited about this position, and the projects I will get to work on. As the XR Developer, I will be working with students and faculty to create augmented reality and virtual reality experiences. I will also be teaching workshops, hosting office hours, and collaborating with professors to aid in their classes, plus coleading a two-week program to teach high school students about VR content creation.

If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say… thank you for the amazing opportunity to grow and learn from the Studio X staff and other Karp Fellows.

Waleed Nadeem
Waleed Nadeem ʼ23 | Brand Ambassador

Majors: Business information systems, digital media studies

Because we are still a relatively new space and program, we wanted to bolster our connection to students. As an orientation leader and resident advisor, Waleed was the ideal candidate for the job. He understands his peers' interests and has helped Studio X forge new partnerships and connections by organizing multiple pop-up events and workshops. He also works closely with our marketing team to develop student-centered content and is often featured in our Instagram Reels.—Meaghan Moody, assistant director of Studio X

I pursued this position because… Studio X is among the pioneers in this new technical field. Last year, when I was an XR specialist, I saw the value that it brings to the University community, and I wanted to contribute to that impact. Being a brand ambassador would allow me to do that by helping to make the space more approachable. During this time, the skills I developed helped me land an internship at Amazon Web Services (The largest cloud provider in the world) partly due to the skills I developed at Studio X.

The skills and experience I brought to this position… came from working eight different jobs around campus, including iZone, the orientation office, and Peet’s Coffee. Those experiences gave me leadership and public speaking skills, while helping me be adaptable. In my ambassador role, it has been pivotal for me to talk to and interact with various stakeholders, and that’s required me to be quick on my feet.

I was most excited to… help students learn about immersive technologies and support them in their endeavors by leading workshops. It was also exciting to meet Ram Haddas, who is leading the XR work at the University of Rochester Medical Center. He came to a couple of our workshops and showed great interest in taking on interns for his lab. Through these visits, I formed a strong connection with him, which helped make him one of our Voices of XR speakers.

When I graduate… I am joining Solu Technology Partners, where I will be working on providing cutting-edge enterprise software solutions to different companies across the world. I will also continue creating different games and mobile applications to stay current with this ever-changing technology. One day, I would like to develop my own startup, where I will provide different solutions to everyday problems with the latest immersive technologies.

If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say… thank you for supporting my professional development and allowing me to have a positive impact on the University community. I have learned so much throughout this experience, and I am so much wiser for it.

Barbara J. Burger iZone

Haven Worley
Haven Worley ʼ24 | Change-making Fellow

Major: Film and digital media studies

A filmmaker, mixed-media artist, and art advocate, Haven is passionate about creative and experiential learning practices in education, especially in the innovation of accessibility, diversity, equity, and inclusion. Haven’s work has centered on bringing students, administrators, educators, and parents together to foster dialogue in order to create the social and educational networks needed to improve student outcomes. A key element of her work has been ensuring that students' voices are as heard and seriously considered as their adult counterparts.—Yasmin Mattox, director of iZone

I pursued this position because… I am incredibly passionate about community engagement, especially in relation to art education in relation to access. I am an artist at heart, and I believe part of the responsibility of creating art is also doing the work with others who are driven toward social change. I saw this as an opportunity to be an advocate and learn from the beautiful community in Rochester, and I hoped it would enable me to contribute to the improvement of the University’s relationship with the Greater Rochester region, specifically the Rochester City School District.

The skills and experience I brought to this position… are my drive and work ethic, which are rooted in me being a Kearns Scholar and low-income, first-generation student. Additionally, I bring creativity, a growth mindset, and a collaborative attitude. However, I constantly seek to learn from my colleagues and mentors.

I’m most excited to… connect with the community and discover new ways to create positivity around the benefits of an art education curriculum that is designed with diversity, equity, inclusivity, and access in mind. I'm also excited to learn from my peers. I know their approaches to design-thinking and using innovative technology and their personal experiences will contribute to my own growth and development. And I’m excited about the opportunities to gain insight and develop skills that will further prepare me for my professional career.

When I graduate… I intend to continue to work in art education and advocate for community-engaged practices, ideally through the filmmaking industry. I aspire to be a writer and director, which would allow me to tell and shape diverse stories that speak to inclusivity and social change. This would be a way for me to start dialogues, support social justice movements, and inspire activism.

If the Karp Family was here right now, I would say… thank you for the wonderful opportunity that the fellowship has provided me. I am constantly discovering new ways of learning and growing as an individual and collaborator. This has been such a gift, and I am grateful to be part of something greater than myself that has a legacy of learning and engagement. I know that I am becoming a better scholar and advocate every day that I am a Karp Fellow.

For more information on the Karp Library Fellows Program, contact Kimberly Hoffman.

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